Matt Campbell made his presence felt with the media today, as he talked about eating Kansas Jayhawks for breakfast and did his best Bill Belichick impersonation with “on to Taco Tech” for lunch.
It may have been ugly, but ISU got it done. The Cyclones won their first conference game on Saturday against the lowly Jayhawks of Kansas by a score of 31-24.
Campbell had some good things to say, but this team isn’t satisfied.
“I appreciate our kids’ resolve in the football game,” Campbell said about his team, who fell behind by 11 points on the road. “To not play our best early, but have the ability to stay within themselves and be able to really put together a good second half to win the game.”
In fact, that was ISU’s first victory against a conference opponent on the road in nearly three years. Yes, the last was a Triple OT thriller against WVU in 2013.
Campbell isn’t completely happy, though. He saw lapses during the KU game and wants to clean things up.
“I still don’t think we’ve played 60 minutes of our best football,” he said. “I know it’s never going to be perfect, but there are things we can control and continue to get better at it.”
Montgomery Making Headlines
True freshman David Montgomery was named Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Week after his stellar performance against the Jayhawks. The Ohio native ran for a career-high 169 yards on 24 carries and is now listed as the lone starting running back on the depth chart.
“A lot of what David has done is certainly a credit to his process and work ethic,” Campbell said. “I really appreciate his detail and maturity for a young person to understand. He has done a great job of working hard and studying film.”
But What about Warren?
“Mike had a couple of good runs, but he is dinged up,” Campbell said. “I think the reality is, you have to go with the hot hand, and [Montgomery] became the hot hand there. It kind of gave us a spark, his tenacity really kind of led to say, man, we’ve got to keep giving him the ball. That doesn’t take a lot of genius coaching to figure that out.”
It appears Warren is still battling a nagging ankle issue and that is the main reason why his usage has dropped.
“Mike’s big deal is getting healthy and getting back in the flow of things. He has stayed locked in the last couple of weeks and had great attention to detail,” Campbell said.
The Impact of Senior Walk-Ons on the Team
In case you haven’t noticed by now, this team has quite a few walk-ons that made some mighty big plays on Saturday. From Nick Fett and Brian Seda to Josh Jahlas and Mitchell Harger, this team has a gritty senior class and Campbell loves it.
“They’ve been the foundation. The rock of the culture of this program,” Campbell said about the senior walk-ons. “You hope by the time our seniors understand what the values of your program look like, they teach that to the juniors, and sophomores, and freshmen. We were fortunate at Toledo at creating that kind of program where the kids were teaching the young guys in the program, this is what the expectation is.”
“When it’s always the coaches doing it, that’s hard. I hate to tell you, they tune the coaches out, too. But when it’s coming from your players it’s really special and has been a huge aspect for this program,” Campbell said.
Not only has it been hard for the coaching staff to relay their message to the players, but it has also been especially difficult for the student athletes in a losing atmosphere where it’s easy to roll over and give up. Campbell has made it clear that he’s not playing for next year.
“To me, this team hasn’t stopped fighting and stopped playing hard,” Campbell said. “They’re laying a great foundation for the future for this football program by wanting to get better. I just wanted to make sure that they knew from my end, that this is all hands on deck to put ourselves in position to win this year.”
Uncle Randy’s Question of The Week, Sponsored by our friends at Green Hills Retirement Community, where we take pride in ‘No question is a bad question’
Des Moines Register Reporter Randy Peterson: “We get that you are over recruiting certain positions — what do you say to a current player at that position and what do you suggest that person should do?”
Campbell answered very candidly.
“Two Words: Prove It.”
“To me, it’s competition is what makes successful football programs. The reality of saying and showing it are two completely different things. That is one thing we try to do as a staff. We make things competitive. We keep score at everything, and we do that because if I was a young man, I would want to have that opportunity to see if I’m doing good things and it’s reflected.”
“We’re always going to recruit really hard. It’s not always about the stars, it’s about the right fit. We know what fits us. Our program is hard and we are going to ask you to be accountable in everything you do, and if you don’t fit that then maybe we take a lesser player that’s going to do that and develop at a higher rate than the guy that is more talented.”
And at that moment, Coach Campbell dropped the mic and walked out.
Iowa State takes on Taco Tech on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Jack Trice Stadium. You heard it here first,
free tacos for everyone if the Cyclones win this one.